Love the Skin You Are In: Why Healthy Skin Always Trumps a Tan

May 21st, 2015, in Living ToxicFree®, Education, Health Risks

Now that summertime is here there are some things you should know as you prepare for your fun in the sun.  After a lot of research I found some alarming information and statistics surrounding sun exposure.

Is that golden tan many of us associate with summer really that dangerous? You be the judge.

Did you know that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun?

Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.

•    On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

•    Half of all adults aged 18-29 report at least one sunburn in the past 12 months.

•    Sustaining 5 or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent[hl1] .

Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40 percent and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

More alarming still, based on 7 worldwide studies, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States according to the CDC.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology 1 in 5 Americans will have some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. 

A 2005 study showed that basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are continuing to increase in men and women under the age of 40. This study showed these types of cancers are increasing in faster rates in young women than in young men. (American Academy of Dermatology).

So just how serious are your tanning habits? 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology more Americans develop skin cancer because of tanning than people develop lung cancer from smoking.

In fact, a recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that melanoma has increased eightfold since 1970 in women under age 40. .

Dr. Darrell Rigel, a dermatology professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, says that every month at his New York practice about two women in their 20s are found to have early melanoma; a dramatic rise from 20 years ago. He says that once melanoma is the size of a dime, there is a significant chance it has already spread and treatment may not work. 

We all love the feeling of sunshine on our shoulders on a warm and beautiful day. (Reminds me of my favorite John Denver song).

And yes, we all need a certain amount of sunshine to be healthy. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D-3. Sunshine is important for our vitamin needs as well as for lifting moods and keeping us healthy all around. 

But in small doses. Take walks, play outdoors with your children, sit outside on your patio--while protecting yourself from direct exposure. Try to keep direct exposure to sun in short periods such as 15-20 minutes. (This may vary depending on your skin type, hair color, history of skin cancer, and overall health history and needs).

Protect yourself from direct sunlight exposure by seeking shady areas, wearing a toxic-free sunscreen, and wearing large sunglasses, hats, and cool, breathable clothing that protects your skin from UV rays. 

You can also try to seek outdoor activities at times during the day when the sun is not at its highest point such as before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. I often take my children to the pool or park at these times during the summer as it makes it much easier to protect all of us without having to cake on as much sunscreen. 

Not ready to give up the look of a natural golden tan? Try a self-tanning product that is toxic-free. By choosing a self-tanning product that doesn't contain toxic chemicals, and avoiding the sun and tanning beds, you’re not only protecting your skin from the sun's damaging and aging effects—you’re protecting your health.

The Skin Cancer Foundation advises people to make these sun safety habits part of their daily health care:

•    Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.

•    Do not burn.

•    Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.

•    Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

•    Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

•    Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

•    Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.

•    Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.

See your doctor every year for a professional skin exam.